How to curse, cuss out and swear in Romanian, like a Romanian (this means, like you know what you're doing - to avoid saying "professionally"). With structural explanations, a strategy guide plus pronounciation revealed!
Cursing is, in all languages, cultural spaces and circumstances a projective activity, an expletive endeavour. Consequently, the backbone of all cursing is the verb, like the backbone of any ship is the hull. Upon this platform colorature and firepower is provided chiefly by epithets and attributes, directed by nouns.
Romanian verbs are complicated affairs, with numerous tenses and aspects available to cover a dizzying array of usecases. Fortunately for you, exactly two can be functionally employed for the purpose of cursingi : either the indicative presentii or else the conjunctive presentiii, and even more fortunately for you they're pretty much the same thing, the 2nd takes an extra "sa" /sə/iv at the beginning and that's that.
Next comes the pronoun. You can either curse the other party directly, in which case you need the 2nd singular (or plural) accusative, te /te/ (va /və/) ; or else indirectly, through reference to a third party, in which case you need either the 3rd singular accusative feminine (o, /o/) or masculine (il, /ɨl/) or if not the 2nd singularv possesive iti /ɨt͡si/.
Now it's time for the verb. Most common curse verbs are fut /fut/ (to most vigorously copulate) which to your good fortune is invariant in all the cases and counts discussed above ; pis /piʃ/ (to urinate) which to your good fortune is invariant in all the cases and counts discussed above ; cac /cac/vi (to defecate) which to your good fortune is invariant in all the cases and counts discussed above ; and dau /dau/ (to give) which to your good fortune seriously now, you have no idea how fortunate you are.
Finally, the other words. Useful items here : muie /muie/ (fellatio), ma-ta /məta/ (yo' ma'), pizda /pizda/ (cunt), pula /pula/ (erect adult penis, there's a different word for your thingee), cacat /cəcat/ (literally, the past participle of cac, so therefore the result of defecation), pisat /piʃat/ (I'll let you guess).
Now let's try our hand a little!
- Hai sictir. Hai x is the simplest form, and barely even qualifies as an insult. Sictir /sictir/, a Turkish import, is the canonical value for x, and constitutes the bulk of usage. Perfectly acceptable substitutes are muie and jet. The general equivalent is "buzz off", "get lost", something like that.
- O fut pe ma-ta!. Perfectly good workhorse, you'll hear this a lot if you drive around like you think you're supposed to. O is 3rd singular feminine, pe is just some fucking preposition and ma-ta you know. If you all boil it down : the gentleman speaking is putting it to you that he is in fact vigurously copulating with that shy, feminine third party most indubitably related to you.vii
- Futu-ti pizda ma-tii!. Probably the most common Romanian insult, and the basis for a lot of variation, it simply says it all and says it plainly. What's more to be said ? She was a whore anyway.
- Sa-ti pis parasuta-n carii, mototolule! /Sət͡si fut paraʃutan carj mototolule/ Now we're cooking with gas. S is short for the mark of the conjunctive sa, because Romanians are vowel alchemists and - is their gold, while ti is the correspondingly shortened form of the aforementioned iti. Parasuta means literally parachute, but figuratively whore, because pretty much anything figuratively means whore in Romanianviii, carii would be tooth cavities and mototol would be someone weak and ineffectual. So, the gentleman speaking is proposing to you a counterfactual reality in which he is urinating in the tooth cavities of your woman, except called by her proper name, because you're a doofus. The striking contrast between the intricately described outrage and the complacent final - mototolule is what a lovingly displeased mother might call her ten year old - serves stylistically quite well, both to suggest the contrast between you and the parachute in question and to enhance the striking power of the whole construction through that same contrast.
So what you do is : you come up with a basic structure, you put some detail on it, you omit some detail on it, you heat it up and spit it out, ready to serve. Think of it like it were painting, which it definitely is. Think of it like it were making up your own pizza out of whatever toppings, or picking out your own sub. Obviously, the more words you know, the better combinations you can come up with! Which is why a solid base of Romanian nouns and adjectives can only help your cursing power, and I suspect is the chief reason driving Romanian kids learning the language.
And now, perhaps it's time to try our hand with one of the most iconic curses, proferred by a French womanix that had learned it phonetically :
Futu-ti dumnezeii si pastele si cristosii ma-tii de porc imputit, cu ma-ta care-i curva, si cu tac-tu-n puscarie, si... si... si cu tot neamu' tau la balamuc! Vedea-ti-as ochii aia beliti in sicriu, si pa nevas'ta facuta posta-n cimitir! Ptiu! Hai sictir umflatu` dracu`!
In English as you no doubt can follow for yourself this comes to,
Fuck your mother's Gods and Easters and Christs, [for] you are a stinking pig, with your mother who's a whore, and your father [who's] in prison, and with your entire family [that's] in the insane asylum. That I see your uglyx eyes in the coffin, and your wife gangbanged in the cemetery! Spitsound! Get lost, devil float.
which is not so bad, but the girl's dubious accent and excellent execution give it a lot more oomph. And for that matter, as exemplified in the movie, a good curse is the surest way to make friends, even with your would be rapist.
Practice daily, you never know when you may need it. Or, for that matter, enjoy it.———
- Obviously you can do anything you wish, and so one can curse in conditional-optative. Nevertheless, this is a community college 101 course, let's not get ahead of ourselves. [↩]
- Roughly the equivalent of the English "present continuous", I am X-ing. This because logically speaking, the difference between "I eat" and "I am eating" is more of a conceit than anything. [↩]
- It'd be subjunctive in English if English were an actual language. As it isn't, conjunctive is the mood of counterfactuality, be it normative ("as things should be based on these ethical or moral considerations, oughts all"), projected ("as I expect or imagine reality to be based on these rational considerations"), desirious ("as aesthetics demand"), transactional ("tit for that ?") or whatever else. [↩]
- IPA is your friend. Learn it, love it. [↩]
- The plural sounds like the same va from before, 2nd plural Ac. [↩]
- Speaking of which, old joke : Russian tourists goes through Bucharest, gets lost because the thing's so well laid out and so even better marked, needs the toilet. Asks a local. Local points to tree. Tourist uncomprehending kak ?!? Local, unperturbed, "tot acolo", ie, "also there."
See, now you're getting the clou of obscure Ruso-Romanian jokefights. Ain't culture great ? [↩]
- There's a logic to these things, you see ? And an economy, and other considerations. In point of fact, the competition of insults is pretty much "who does most with least", "who can pack the most colorful expression in the least syllabic effort. [↩]
- Here's a short list, that specifically excludes all the five dozen or so words that literally mean whore, from tirfa /tɨrfə/ to cocota /cocotə/ (straight from French, she-cock), farfuză /farfuzə/ and god knows what else : coarda /co̯ardə/, literally string, chord* ; zdreanţă /zdreant͡sə/ and numerous variations, also boarfa /bo̯arfə/ and numerous variations going all the way to fleoarţă, fleorţotină etc, literally rag ; pupăză /pupəzə/, literally Upupa epops ; panarama /panaramə/, literally sideshow ; putoare /putoare/, literally stench, figuratively laziness ; baragladina /baragladinə/, literally gypsy woman ; petarda /petardə/ & pocnitoare /pocnitoare/, both literally fireworks, cherry bombs ; trompeta /trompetə/, literally trumpet ; traseistă /traseistə/ literally "pathfollower" etc etc.
* Speaking of which, Romanian has coarda which ambiguously means either string or whore, except its plural forms as corzi and coarde respectively, and so is no longer ambiguous. So picture me with shapely lady in music store, buying her a guitar, and asking the guy, "Da' coarde aveti ?" ie, how about whores ? [↩]
- Marthe Felten, in Asfalt Tango. [↩]
- Literally, peeled. [↩]